Something new to me
The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply.
I don’t know who said this quote but nothing else has summarised my experience more greatly. Throughout this entire module I have had to vastly improve on my personal communication skills under different circumstances.
I have undertaken projects and placements that have changed the way I have thought about design but also changed my career plan. Before these modules I wanted to teach in an FE environment and within the last five months I have had that opportunity. I also had the opportunity to work on live briefs provided through the university but also working on some paid freelance work. Each presented with its own challenges which are all solved with good communication.
Good communication came in many forms.
Verbal Communication –
Verbal communication takes place over the phone or in person. The channel of the Message is oral. Which most of the time, did the trick being able to explain what I needed. But different scenarios called for different ways of verbal communication and different language. Take for example a small group of level one BTEC students, they don’t understand technical language but also don’t want to be spoken to like children. Within days of me working within the college I had learnt that the teachers usually speak to them like children. I tried speaking to them in a simple clear manor, explaining things a step by step which resulted in a more positive relationship and better responses from the students themselves and the other members of staff.
Storytelling is a form of verbal communication; it can help to build common points for individuals. Stories can help to clear key values. And when working as part of a team to help create a brand for a research project run by young researcher’s, storytelling of previous projects and experiences allowed us to find common ground with the young researchers which allowed them to share their experiences with us helping us to build a positive relationship with the clients.
Crucial Conversations -
High-stakes communications require more planning, reflection, and a level of skill than normal day-to-day interactions. For example, presenting a design pitch to an important client. There can also be times in our professional lives when we have crucial conversations—discussions where not only are the stakes high but where opinions differ and emotions are strong. This type of conversation has happened more than once during the last five months. Client pitching being the most crucial. I have had to pitch hours of hard work for clients to openly scrutinise. I believe I have got better with practise but at first I found it extremely hard not to take it personally. Not letting others opinions take over your emotions is a form of communication itself.
Written Communication -
As a contrast to verbal communications, written business communications are printed messages. Examples of written communications include memos, proposals, e-mails and letters. They can be printed on paper, handwritten, or appear on screen. These can be written over a longer period of time which allows us to think more about what we are saying. But this also means it can be read at any time. Which means you might not always get the response as fast as you would like. The group work project from February has mostly been all over email. Its difficult. It’s much harder to explain everything. It’s even harder to explain design stories and links. It also seems to take longer, refining my practice of patience. Emails can take days to achieve a response which sometimes results in work grinding to a holt, a couple of time this has happened and unfortunately I have yet to find a better solution than resending emails, this is still something I’m working on.
Nonverbal Communication –
It’s not always what you say that matters. It’s what you do.What you say is a vital part of a communication. But what you don’t say can be more important. Research suggested that 55% of in-person communication comes from nonverbal cues like facial expressions, body language, and the tone of your voice. Different groups of people respond tone of voice in different way. Take for example the college students and the young researchers – both are the same age ranges but react very differently. One thrives for a gentle and caring approach and the other seems to respect an authoritative tone. For many students, I found that when communicating with them as a “friend” they were much more honest but were prone to distraction. Whereas, when spoken to in a more professional tone they worked and responded better. Figuring out which tone to use and when was half the challenge, but I seem to have got it down to fine art with this bunch now, but I can see that as a teacher it must be hard as every year the dynamic of the group changes.Body Language -A rule of simplicity, directness, and warmth can be effective communication. There is a lot to be said for a firm handshake, it is a great way to establish trust between us and a client. A limp, sweaty handshake shows a weakness or nervousness. Chewing lips conveys uncertainty whereas a direct smile conveys confidence. Eye contact is so important. In the US, making eye contact (for about a second) is considered a sign of trustworthiness. Facial Expressions correspond with eye contact. Our faces are capable of producing thousands of different expressions. Each of these expresses an emotion. Emotions and feelings can impact decisions greatly. Posture, touch and personal space can also impact decisions and the way others perceive us. It is important to put our best selves forward to a client, be the best you, you can. That can build trust and trust can mean a brilliant working relationship. In all situations of client and placement work this year I have found that trust is a key element to design and the more trust you have the more creative freedom they give you. Which in turn makes for better design work.
From working on both projects and placements I have changed the way I think about design which has also resulted in a change for my career plan. Before these projects and placements my plan was to do a PGCE and to teach in an FE environment and having these opportunities has taught me so many invaluable skills that have proven to me that I can do this, I can be a designer. I also had the opportunity to freelance which has taught me equal lessons in communication. Each scenario needed different forms of communication.
Communication – the human connection – It is the key to personal and career success –Paul J. Meyer.